Top-down effects of meter induction on audition and vision

Top-down effects of meter induction on audition and vision


Alexandre Celma Miralles1 , Robert Frank de Menezes2, and Juan M. Toro1,3


1. Center for Brain and Cognition, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain

2. Universitat de Barcelona, Spain



This study focuses on meter induction, the ability to organize the isochronous beats perceived in music in hierarchical structures. Since top-down effects of meter induction have recently been demonstrated in the auditory domain, we aim to assess their presence in the visual modality. Sixteen musicians were asked to mentally project binary (i.e. a strong weak pattern) and ternary (i.e. a strong-weak-weak pattern) meter onto analogous visual and auditory stimuli presented separately. Participants’ electrophysiological responses were recorded during the presentation of sequences of tones and blinking circular shapes at 2.4 Hz. The elicited steady-state evoked potentials were analyzed in the frequency domain, which allowed us to compare the frequencies of the beat (2.4 Hz), its first harmonic (4.8 Hz), the binary subharmonic (1.2 Hz), and ternary subharmonic (0.8 Hz) within and across modalities. We firstly checked the magnitude spectra and found a significant effect at 0.8 Hz in the ternary condition for both modalities. This implies cross-modal meter induction. An interaction between magnitude and modality was also attested for 2.4 and 4.8 Hz. After using the control condition as a baseline, the power spectra revealed significant differences from zero for both modalities in the ternary condition at 0.8 Hz, as well as for the auditory binary condition at 1.2 Hz. These findings supports the idea that the processing of meter can be modulated by top-down mechanisms that interact with our perception of rhythmic events. They also suggest that such modulation is not domain-specific, but can also apply to the visual domain.

Alexandre Celma Miralles, Robert Frank de Menezes, & Juan M. Toro